“What if I was to say that our inability to completely get our head around all these concepts and how they work is a limitation of this technology, which is the static page, or the explanation through written text. However, if you were to take and leverage simulation and interactivity to show what you can’t see, and to experience these things in real time, imagine what it might be like.”
A TEDx Talk I watched recently was about Unboxing education through gaming, playing, and making. Prior to presenting a virtual simulation, Lucien Vattel posed the aforementioned thought worth contemplating. Now, before you jump in blindly, harp on Vattel or question me about the possibilities, watch the talk and witness how he also instructed the audience in a scientific concept. He did this by utilizing the medium of himself with the technology of the human body though there was cutting edge technology at his disposal.
Google Glass showed up some years ago, and it seems to be continuing in development while it’s being used on factory floors. Some are wanting Apple to join in on innovating hearing aids. Where do these wearables that Vattel and others speak of fit within education? How will society view them? For merely entertainment and/or improving the quality of life for the world? It’s the quality of life and the education of those in my classroom that I have begun to consider the place that wearable technology could have. In my opinion, Chinese education is not close to embracing it since most schools don’t have a plan on how to incorporate phones, devices, or personal computers. I saw 3D printers at an experimental school once, but the connections weren’t operational. Nobody seemed to mind that nothing was being constructed for the scores of people visiting that day. It was like the future was stuck and not a single person objected.
With the current condition the way that it is, coding, programming, and more modern technology have found their ways into Chinese schools by being an after-school activity, or a school club. If I were to encompass wearable tech into my personal teaching, I would be waiting for a while. If educators or leaders in innovation in China want students to be prepared, they should first peel back the layers of historical, cultural, and traditional influences that lead to the ever-so-popular thought of how technology does much more harm than good in learning. I have never heard of wearables even mentioned until recently and after searching what the China Daily has reported on its place in advancements. Seems that while tech like these mind-blowing, futuristic gadgets created in China are being presented, at the same time VR is also being proven as “effective” in drug rehab. Therefore, like the US and many other countries worldwide, society and technology are moving forward. Education is behind the game. In its entirety, that’s not such a bad thing, but that topic is for another time.
One way that educators can launch forward is through Virtual Field Trips. Kyle Schutt defines a VFT as when “an educator leverages digital content and educational technologies to take educators and students beyond their classroom walls to meet people and see places they might not otherwise have the opportunity to experience.” Again, I hadn’t heard of these either until recently, and it reminded me of when my sixth graders and I were learning about The Underground Railroad. National Geographic provided an online interactive where the students could envision themselves as slaves on the run for Canada but had to avoid hunters, arrive safely at “stations,” and go through authentic emotional and psychological experiences. Though this wasn’t even a 3D/4D movie, it was an interesting class together exploring unknown territory and providing a dimension unmet before. It has me thinking what “advanced adventure” could be possible with my sixth graders next semester or my high school health class. (Side note: Connecting it to health has me recall being on a ride at Disney once where we were riding inside the human body.) Oh, the possibilities…Education World, Scholastic, and others have great resources for teachers.
These two topics have led me to a question I’ve been asking myself as a teacher. With technology, am I a user or integrator?